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C.J. 'Fiery' Obasi
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This has got to be one of the flat-out weirdest martial arts films ever made right up there with Master of the Flying Guillotine, Taoist Drunkard and Butterfly Sword. Basically... (deep breath) A young nobleman is spurned by his unrequited love in favor of another another guy so he jumps off a cliff and is saved by a flying dog dragon thing (which is actually some guys in a suit, but they make it move eerily like a dog) who takes the protagonist to a blind hermit who spent decades learning how to shoot swastika lasers, the hero is given a lightsaber and is drawn into a complicated clan conflict involving a lady with a fake face and an old man who can stretch his leg for like a mile and kick people who can't even see him (exhale). The plot is some typical impossibly convoluted wuxia novel-crammed-into-90 minutes schlock involving clan feuds, old grudges and secret techniques, but the sadistic thing is that it all MAKES SENSE, so your head will probably spin trying to keep track of who's related to who, who backstabbed who and whatnot. It tends toward the carefree, even childlike in a proto- Dragon Ball sort of way, but that didn't stop 'em from putting in exploding bodies (complete with flying guts), melting faces, graphic decapitations, and so forth.
I guess you can probably turn your brain off and just treat it as some phantasmagorical psychedelic visual experience, I mean the special effects were probably the point. I always thought that was a superficial way to enjoy a film, but I feel like you kind of "get to" with something like this--keep in mind it's pre-CGI, so there was a lot of ingenuity put into the visuals. When one guy spins in the air, grabs a guy, and continues spinning so fast that he drills the guy through the floor, you're seeing a purely physical representation of that, and somehow that's satisfying. The numerous retroscope effects are an exception, and suffer from the same problem CG suffers from now: it's obviously not really there. But, y'know, the movie's fantasy elements (energy attacks, etc.) shouldn't make it be seen as any less culturally "authentic"; in old wuxia novels, action tended to be summed up with a sentence like "...and then X defeated Y." This film simply breaks free from the assumption that such a sentence can only describe highly choreographed martial arts.
Incredibly flawed movie, but valuable as sort of a goldmine of oldschool special effects.
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